Nature can cure America’s addiction

Published 12:30 am Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Our country, maybe much of our world, has an addiction. In fact, we announce it often and get nods of agreement from other addicts.

We feel part of an exclusive club when we talk about this challenge. It defines us, keeps us moving with the herd and, I suppose, creates some version of happiness.

The other morning I saw a tongue-in-cheek commercial offering a prescription to treat the symptoms of this addiction. It was funny, but there was also a message mixed with the humor.

What is the addiction that has most humans in its grip? It is busyness.

Yep, we are addicted to being busy, to rushing around in a blur and to proclaiming to everyone just how busy we are all the time. We list the stuff we’ve done, must do, need to do and didn’t get done. And, as we run through the list, we sigh and shake our heads.

However, beneath the sighing is a bit pride and a thought that “Because my life is so busy and stressed, I must be successful.” WHAT!?

Yep, we seem to think being hurried and stressed equals a successful life. Again, what?

Yesterday, I saw a message reminding adults of things they did as kids. Stuff like watching the moon as you rode home on a clear night and being sure it was following the car. Taking time to look at raindrops rolling down a window and pretending two of them were racing. Simple things — un-busy things.

We gazed at clouds and splashed in puddles. Hurry wasn’t in our vocabulary on a summer night when Mother called us to come inside. Chasing butterflies and lightning bugs and wiggling our toes in the fresh mowed grass was all that was on our agenda.

Then we grew up and forgot how it felt to lie on our backs under a tree and watch leaves dance above us. We decided trying to count stars on a crisp night was a waste of time and didn’t accomplish anything anyway.

I know grownups have more responsibility, less time for stargazing and lightning bug chasing. But must we fill every minute with doing?

Back to that faux commercial. It’s called the Nature RX and is a parody of those anxiety, insomnia, weight loss, erectile dysfunction, etc. commercials that play endlessly at dinnertime and are more annoying than informational.

This commercial pushes a dose of nature. Words like, “Results may vary. Golf is not nature,” pop up as the announcer sells the benefits of going outside.

“Nature is recommended for humans of all ages — and it’s good for pets, too,” says the voice in the commercial.

“Caution: nature may cause you to slow down, quit your job or question what the (insert a naughty word that starts with F) you are doing with your life,” says a man peacefully paddling a canoe.

Other messages appear.

“You are nature.”

“Nature doesn’t cure everything — it just may help.”

“Nothing in nature is clickable.”

And the commercial continues …

“Prescription strength nature – is a non harmful medication shown to relieve the crippling symptoms of modern life.”

Here comes the disclaimer — you know the medication’s side effects they tell you about at the end of every advertisement.

“Side effects include spontaneous euphoria, taking yourself less seriously and being in a good mood for no apparent reason …

There we have it, something to help us overcome our busyness addiction. Well, if not overcome it, at least get a bit of relief from its chokehold grip on our lives.

And the best part — it’s free.

So the next time the busyness monkey jumps on your back, find a puddle, a tree, a cloud, anything that invites you to stop for a minute.

And, if you worry what other addicts might think if they see you in nature appearing to be “doing nothing,” find a kid to puddle-splash with you. We still accept brief periods of un-busyness as allowable behavior for them.


Nancy Blackmon is a writer and yoga teacher.